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Our society benefits from a multitude of nature's blessings grounded upon biodiversity, known as ecosystem services. This biodiversity, however, is experiencing significant damage at an unprecedented speed. Accordingly, corporate enterprises are now expected to address issues of conservation and sustainable use of resources.
We are committed to properly understanding the impact of our business activities on biodiversity and contributing to conservation. To this end, we are promoting initiatives in cooperation with local governments, environmental conservation NPO/NGOs, and specialized agencies.
Since 2009, we have identified and are promoting action in three areas where our business activities affect biodiversity: products, land use, and procurement.
Green areas in our business sites can potentially contribute to conserving biodiversity in that area. Particularly, in urban areas, hardly any natural environments where wild animals can live and breed remain. If our green areas retain some of the plants and watery environment, such areas would become a precious environment for a variety of living organisms, even if the area was small. In terms of biodiversity, these green areas take on the roles of reinforcing the ecological network and the protecting threatened wild fauna and flora. An ecological network refers to the organic relationship between ecological spaces such as the greenery and waters where a variety of creatures live and breed. The greenery in our sites helps expand the overall space where wild animals including birds, butterflies, and dragonflies live, as they can hop between the green areas dotted in the area. In addition, protecting wild fauna and flora in local areas is an activity with the help and advice of experts, to preserve endangered species designated by the Ministry of the Environment or local government that are deemed to be disappearing from that area. The following articles introduce the activities being carried out in our business sites.
The Kusatsu Factory of Appliances Company is the major manufacturing site of our home appliances, including refrigerators and air conditioners. Since the factory's declaration to lead the way in 'eco ideas' for products, manufacturing, and society as 'eco ideas' Factory Biwako in June 2008, it has been undertaking environmental initiatives as the group's model eco-conscious factory. In the 'eco ideas' Declaration October 2011, the factory announced it would contribute in conserving biodiversity as its key environmental effort. Re-arranging the pond and green areas within the factory premises as the Kyozon-no-mori Forest (Forest of Coexistence) to suit the wild fauna ecology in the area, we are attempting to create an organic link with the surrounding woodlands and rivers to form a wide-area ecological network that covers Lake Biwa and the woodlands surrounding the nearby residential area.
From fiscal 2012 to 2013, surveys by experts were conducted to identify the living organisms within the premises. As a result, it was found that a total of 580 species of organisms were identified, including 338 species of plants, 8 species of mammals, 35 species of birds, 1 species of amphibian, 4 species of reptiles, 177 species of insects, and 22 species of aquatic animals. The surveys revealed the following three particularly important points:
The surveys observed foxes and raccoon dogs, which mainly live in woodland, move within a wider area. They also discovered rhinogobius kurodai, a type of domestic goby fish, living in the waters within the Kusatsu Factory premises. These observations prove that the Forest has established a link with the surrounding woodlands and rivers. Another threatened species observed in the surveys was the green-backed heron. Not only were the herons observed, it was found that they even breed in a green area near the Kyozon-no-mori Forest, which again shows that these woodlands play a very important role in biodiversity conservation. The surveys identified a wide range of animals that spans different levels of the ecosystem. Those in the higher ranking levels include falcons and other large birds such as grey herons and green-backed herons, as well as large mammals such as raccoon dogs and foxes. The middle ranking animals recorded are Japanese rat snakes and small raptorial birds such as the shrike, followed by lizards, frogs, and insects as the lower ranking organisms. Finally, more than 300 species of plants were observed. These plants support all the living organisms directly and indirectly. The Kyozon-no-mori Forest is the green that provides the rich ecosystem cradling many creatures.
We are very aware of the significant role of the green space in Kusatsu Factory in the biodiversity of the area, and will continue to strive for biodiversity conservation, working closely as part of the regional ecological strategy carried out by Shiga Prefecture and Kusatsu City.
Appliances Company's Kusatsu Factory in Shiga Prefecture
Raccoon dogs appeared in the Forest during the night
Young green-backed herons, a threatened species in Shiga Prefecture
A Japanese rat snake living in the Forest of Coexistence
In March 2009, a biotope was built to help living organisms live more easily in the premises of Kadoma site where the Eco Solutions Company head office is located. From the stage of planning of the biotope, Osaka Prefecture University has provided us with expert advice and instructions. The principle was to not introduce any species other than soil and domestic plants to the biotope, so that it would allow us to monitor how many and what kind of living organisms the biotope would populate. The biotope is maintained by volunteers among the corporate staff members to promote participatory activities by employees towards biodiversity. In the following spring after the biotope was built, spot-billed ducks nested and ducklings were born. These chicks contributed the biodiversity awareness among the staff members by attracting their attention to the biotope as a place where they can learn about animals in an accessible manner.
In order to further contribute to local biodiversity conservation, we started preserving hemigrammocypris rasborella (a fresh water fish belonging to the carp family) and monochoria korsakowii (a marsh plant) in the biotope in June 2012, both of which are specified as threatened species in the Red Data List by the Ministry of the Environment and Osaka Prefecture. Both the fish and plant were commonly seen in streams, ponds, canals, and rice paddies in the past. However, their natural habitat in Osaka has been greatly reduced due to the concreting of river beds and canal banks and reclaiming of ponds, as well as environmental deterioration from herbicides. Under a survey by the Aquatic Life Conservation Research Center, Research Institute of Environment, Agriculture and Fisheries, Osaka Prefectural Government, which works to protect these organisms, Eco Solutions Company's biotope was confirmed to be a highly suitable environment to support these fish and plants. Samples of the fish and plants collected from their natural habitats in Osaka were introduced to the biotope with the cooperation and instructions by the Aquatic Life Conservation Research Center, who continued regular monitoring of the introduced organisms in the biotope and confirmed that the hemigrammocypris rasborella have laid eggs and bred. We are delighted that our preservation efforts are working successfully.
Knowing that the biotope in the Eco Solutions Company Kadoma site is contributing to helping threatened living organisms of the area, we will also continue our conventional efforts and expand the scope of efforts in biodiversity awareness promotion through introducing the details and purpose of our activities.
Biotope of Eco Solution Company
Hemigrammocypris rasborella, a threatened species released in the water
Adult monochoria korsakowii, a threatened species
Monitoring living organisms
Family of pot-billed ducks swimming across the biotope
In an effort to address biodiversity conservation and sustainability, we consulted extensively with World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Japan and formulated Panasonic Group Green Procurement Guidelines for Wood. In fiscal 2013, the total procurement of timber and wood materials was measured at approx. 390 thousand m3. By category, this breaks down to 79% meeting "Priority" procurement standards (a 4-point year-on-year increase), 21% in the category of "Acceptable" (a 4-point year-on-year decrease), and 0.3% in the "Avoiding" category (a 0.3-point year-on-year decrease). We are revising Category 3 procurement and working to eliminate it by the end of fiscal 2014. Once we have attained zero Category 3 procurement, we will make strict efforts to maintain this status.
Together with the NGO BirdLife International, we have established a third-party assessment system to provide customers with information about product contributions to biodiversity. Through this system, we have assessed products which are closely linked to biodiversity.
We have also enhanced our Green Product accreditation criteria by adding biodiversity to the existing items. We define products that contribute to biodiversity conservation as those that use biodiversity-conscious materials in their major components and those that include functions to help biodiversity conservation.
Since 2007, we have been promoting the Yellow Sea Ecoregion Support Project, a seven-year partnership with WWF Japan. The project aims to implement measures required for the sustainable use and conservation of the Yellow Sea Ecoregion, a body of sea water enclosed by China and the Korean peninsula, in which high biodiversity value exists.